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‘Short-term’ solutions proposed for Lakeview

The Ministry of Education [MoE] has finally proposed solutions for Lakeview School’s classroom shortage, but there are already doubts they will really fix the issue.

In 2017, MoE served a formal notice to Lakeview that two agencies – Resource Teachers: Learning and Behaviour Service [RTLB] and Central Regional Health School – would occupy three classrooms indefinitely, reducing the school’s capacity.

Lakeview School principal Tim Nelson said that at that time, the school’s enrolment was small and projected to drop to the low 300s. Instead, its roll has grown to 545 students this year, which is 70 above capacity.

MoE is now proposing to temporarily restore one classroom that’s currently used by the RTLB and also place the school in an enrolment zone, but Nelson believes this will have “very, very little impact”.

Under the proposal, RTLB would return the space from week seven of this term until the end of term one next year.

“Although we appreciate that space has been reallocated on a short-term basis and it addresses an immediate need, it doesn’t address the long-term need.”

As for the proposed enrolment scheme, students who live inside Lakeview School’s ‘home zone’ would have the right to enrol at the school, while students outside the zone would only be accepted if there is room for them.

The issue Nelson foresees with this, however, is that “all the students who are currently here are still here, and there will still be kids coming here who are out of zone until the end of the year, when we could have close to 600 kids”.

Although “the Ministry seems to see it as a panacea for our issues around space at the school”, Nelson said, “we don’t see that as a board of trustees”.

The “extremely limited” classroom space has meant multiple resources have had to be reshuffled, children and teachers have had to use the library as a classroom, and if numbers increase further the school gym would need to be used as a temporary classroom while planned renovations go ahead.

Nelson said the situation is “utterly ridiculous” and still believes the three classrooms occupied by the RTLB and Health School should be returned to Lakeview permanently.

MoE’s Hautū Te Tai Runga [South leader] Nancy Bell said the school has grown steadily since 2019, when the peak roll was 420, and roll projections show that this growth will “likely continue”.

In March this year, Bell said, the school was a 104 per cent capacity, with room for 494 students.

“When the ministry or a board becomes concerned about a school’s roll, capacity and the potential for overcrowding, an enrolment scheme is considered as a potential response.

“The proposed enrolment scheme home zone for Lakeview is being developed alongside the school’s board before going out for community consultation.

“From this we will develop a proposed scheme for formal consultation with the board of the school and its community.

“Community consultation has not yet started, and we will consider any feedback carefully before making a decision,” Bell said.

The MoE has previously told the Times-Ages that “the school cannot reclaim the classroom space because the agreement is in perpetuity and as the legislative users the RTLB/Health School cannot be relocated”.

“The tenancy agreement can only be rescinded by another formal variation, which is an action only the ministry can take.”

MoE has not rescinded the agreement, Bell said, and she is in ongoing discussions with Lakeview School and the RTLB regarding accommodation pressures.

“We have agreed a short term solution and are exploring longer term options,” she said.

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